Vixen Chat: Chrisette Michele Talks New Album, Falling Out of Love and Advice for Wale
Chrisette Michele has the talent to rival Motown’s greatest legends, the respect of superstars like Jay-Z and Beyoncé and a dedicated international fan base yet even she couldn't avoid the pitfalls of love. Lucky for us, the 30-year-old went back into the studio to chronicle how she put her broken heart back together in her fourth studio album Better, a testimony to the power of healing correctly. She credits the power of prayer, therapy and being engulfed by cultures from overseas as the catalyst to putting a lost love in her rearview.
Now, with a renewed relationship with love, her label and even food, Michele sat with Vixen to chat about her new healthy-lifestyle book Fat Vegan, what it means to be a "rich hipster" and why she advised Wale not to cut his dreads. – Gia Peppers
VIBE Vixen: Explain the process of creating your fourth studio album Better?
Chrisette Michele: The process was quiet. I was still able to be on stage but in my personal time, just wanted not to have to answer to anyone at all, except myself. I took some time out to juice-feast and just get along with myself. I got a lot of answers that way.
Your record was released through a joint deal with Motown and Def Jam. How did that happen?
It came about because Motown got a group of women that I thought were really incredible. We had three black women running a record label and I thought that was really exciting. I decided that I wanted to be apart of that movement, [but] I am still in the same office with Def Jam.
What do you want fans to take away from this new LP?
I want people to come away with the fact that you can be healed. A lot of times, we don’t know that unless somebody tells us or we see somebody else going through it. People say that it is easier to get through your situation by hearing somebody else’s testimony, so this is me saying, ‘I was broken, and now I’m healed. You can do the same.'
Most of your song content is grounded in love. After heartbreak, how are your so fearless in your approach to it?
A lot of prayer and a whole lot of therapy. I thank God for therapy and for finding the right therapist, because if you don’t talk about it, if you don’t get it out, you don’t know that somebody else has been there.
Are you in love, now?
I’m in love with a person, I’m in love with life, and I’m in love most of all with myself. That feels the best.
That’s so true. So let’s talk more about the album. One of the most talked about tracks is “Rich Hipster.” Can you explain what the term means?
A rich hipster is somebody who is rich in heart, and rich in art. I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn about 2 1/2 years ago, and I really saw myself in other people walking down the street. I saw this desire to be unlike anybody else, to go against the grain, to say no to anything that makes me do what somebody else is doing. The funny part is, we are all doing the same thing. There is this mutual understanding within that community that says, “I’m not going to judge you, I’m going to let you live your life, and I’m going to respect you. I’m going to let you have a great time and I will celebrate with you.
VV: Wale is featured on the song. Why do you think you and Wale work so well together?
CM: You know, me and Wale have watched each other go through lots of ups and downs. We’ve watched each other be afraid in the music industry then overcome those fears. Wale is really great at tapping into lifestyle scenarios and articulating it so that everybody can understand it. From the song “Shades” to “Rich Hipster," I just feel like he always says it the best.
What is the best advice he has given you?
We just push each other to continue to be honest with who we are. I remember right when I was about to shave my head Wale said, 'Man, nobody else got dreads, I don’t look like everybody else. I’m not gonna win with these dreads.' I told him, 'Wale don’t cut off your dreads. They are beautiful.' He kept his dreads and he braided them back for the Ambition album cover. He ended up having a top record, everybody fell in love with him all over again and all he did was be himself.
Both of you tend to go against the norm and are committed to giving your fans quality music. With that being said, what is your view on the mainstream music industry?
The mainstream industry is full of so many things that you can’t comment on it as a whole, but individually, I feel that I was in a very unhealthy space when I gave out my last album. There were a lot of negative sounds, sounds that might have made you sad when you listened to it. It’s not a bad thing to be sad, but I’d rather not be the reason. I want my music to bring you to a place of happiness and peace.
So, how is life now for Chrisette Michele?
I am having fun. I am not worried about if I am underrated or overrated or rated at all. I am just excited to be a singer who travels around the world and touches peoples’ hearts. That’s it.
Better is in stores and available on iTunes now.